The Most Common IELTS Speaking Mistakes and How to Avoid Them!

Let’s talk about IELTS Speaking. More specifically, it’s time we focus on those common IELTS speaking mistakes.

This article addresses each section of the Speaking test and shares the most common IELTS speaking mistakes test-takers “trip up” on during each part.

common IELTS speaking mistakes
Avoid these common mistakes on test-day! 

Common IELTS Speaking Mistakes #1

Part 1: Answers are too short.

In this part of the test it’s important to elaborate! Provide enough information to make the interaction feel “conversational”.

You should try to aim for a 2-3 sentence answer.

Here’s an example:

“Where did you grow up?”

Bad Response: “A small city in Nigeria.”

Good Response: “I grew up in a small city in Nigeria. It’s about 2 hours from the capital city. The surrounding area is known to be very beautiful. But I moved away when I was only 4 years old. So…  honestly, I don’t remember it clearly.”

Now, let’s talk about these responses.

Remember, during this portion of the test the examiner needs to evaluate the quality of your spoken English! Therefore, it’s important that we give them something to evaluate!

Of course you need to stay on topic and answer their question directly, but, don’t be afraid to also add details to your responses.

Watch this speaking simulation for Part 1:

Common IELTS Speaking Mistake #2

Part 2: Not elaborating enough. 

common ielts speaking mistakes
Silence is not going to help. Remember to sound “conversational” when you speak. Your fluency will determine this.

In any of the three parts, giving responses that are too short is one of the most common IELTS speaking mistakes.

It can be quite hard to speak for such an extended amount of time!

Especially in PART 2 where you are required to speak continually for two minutes. (Note: IELTS time specifications are important!)

It helps to try and tell a story with a beginning, middle and end. This will help you produce a lengthier response while still giving a “well-organized” and clear answer.

For more help with Part 2 watch this webinar:

Common IELTS Speaking Mistake #3

Part 3: Silence … is not golden? 

This section of the Speaking test can be intimidating. It requires you to think critically and give your opinion.

Remember, it is important to not only give your opinion but also explain your reasoning. You may want to give an example or even explain by using a story from your own personal experience.

You want to avoid false starts during any part of the Speaking test.

So, if necessary, you may need to think about your answer. In particular, when you are asked to give these opinion type responses in Part 3, you may feel the urge to pause.

But rather than thinking silently or mumbling, “Uhhhhh..”, try to save yourself time.

While you think start by saying, “That’s a good question…” or, “Wow, I really haven’t thought of about that before…

For more tips on Part 3 check out this short Lesson video:

3 Most Common IELTS Mistakes Recap

common ielts speaking mistakes
So there you have it! Did you get all that? Read on for some IELTS speaking tips! 

Overall here’s what to remember:

In general, avoid pauses and false starts. If you make a mistake, keep going. The examiner wants to see that you can have a conversation and express yourself without issues. Mistakes are okay – just keep talking!

You need to remember that there are no “right” or “wrong” answers. You are not being judged on the opinions you give! So try to relax and keep all your responses as conversational as possible.

Some of the most straightforward advice we can give you is to stick to what you know and use on a daily basis. This way you will avoid long pauses and eliminate stressing yourself out.

Again, it comes down to how well you can communicate fluently. It’s not about speaking absolutely perfectly. You just need to make sense.

So, to fine-tune your presentation skills practice with this webinar:

Another great way to improve is by recording yourself as you answer different questions. This way you’ll be able to critique your own mistakes and better notice subtleties that may make your speech a little harder to comprehend.

Remember, these common IELTS speaking mistakes are easily avoidable. With the right amount of revision and practice, you’ll be well on your way!

For more information on the IELTS speaking, including test format and preparation tips, visit the IELTS speaking preparation overview article.

For an account of Jay’s experience getting an “impossible” IELTS 9 in Speaking, visit the article on How to get an IELTS 9 in Speaking.

What are your common IELTS speaking mistakes? Be sure to let us know what yours are in the comments! 

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Written by Olivia B. 

IELTS preparation | Maximising your IELTS Reading Test Score!

This article will teach you some relevant tips on how to maximise your score in the IELTS Reading Test. Be sure to practice the 3-Steps to improve your reading comprehension and make your preparation time count on test-day! 

IELTS reading test
Get ready to: “knock your opponent of the table”(aka the IELTS exam!) using the following test preparation strategies for IELTS reading.

How can I improve my IELTS reading test score?

A great way to get off to a strong start with your IELTS reading test study is to firstly do some IELTS reading practice tests to find out or ‘diagnose’ what kind of mistakes you are making, and from there where you need to improve.

You might need to focus on increasing your academic vocabulary, improving your grammar or simply your speed of reading and ability to take in the meaning quickly – so tightening up your reading comprehension skills is a great start!

Next, start to read widely from a variety of sources to build up your vocabulary on a range of academic topics and improve your overall reading skills.

IELTS reading tests contain authentic reading passages, so as well as reading IELTS reading tests, articles that can be found in good newspapers, such as:

Also, for more advanced reading material try:

Thirdly and very importantly, it’s not only what you read but how you read! If you just let the information you read ‘go in one ear and out the other,’ and brush over unknown words like they don’t matter, you probably won’t be improving your reading skills much!

If you want suggestions on generalized IELTS study tips (IELTS general and academic), follow the link to the blog here!

3-Steps for IELTS reading practise

In order to achieve a high score in the IELTS reading test, it’s really beneficial to practice your reading comprehension skills using these 3-steps:

Step 1: Skim the passage first

Have a quick look at the whole thing to find out what it’s about and then your mind will start predicting information: read the heading, then the topic or first sentence of each paragraph and quickly speed read through the whole thing.

This will help you with ‘global’ IELTS questions, such as assessing the attitude or the author of the passage or in choosing the best title or heading for the whole passage.

Step 2: Summarise each paragraph as you read

Get into the habit of looking up after each paragraph you have read and then summarise the main idea/points in the paragraph in your own words in just 1-2 sentences.

Not only will this really exercise your brain, it will greatly improve your reading speed and comprehension skills.

Step 3: Keep a record of new vocabulary

After reading an article, note down any new words you have discovered and their meaning on an Excel spread sheet or in a notebook.

Then read this sheet/list everyday whenever you can: before work, during your lunch break, after work, on the train, before bed (!) etc.

IELTS reading test
Even spending a few minutes at the train station reading a news article online, would count as practice towards your IELTS reading exam. 

To note, it’s said that it takes 6 revisits or reviews of a new word or expression in order to remember it properly.

This is at the point where it becomes part of your personal lexicon ( … a new word for you? I will be kind and tell you the meaning this time to help you start your own IELTS reading test vocabulary list!)

A lexicon is the vocabulary of a person, a language or branch of knowledge; it is a countable noun so we can use ’a’ in front of it or put it in plural form by adding ‘s.’ For example: ‘People in the IT industry need to learn a lexicon of computer terms.’

Like I have just done, it is always a good idea to put new words into a sample sentence, so that you ‘engage’ with the word and bring it to life, thus making it easier to retain in your memory.

Overall, widening your academic vocabulary in this way will certainly be helpful for both the IELTS reading test and writing test components.

Even though it might seem like a bit of a ‘hassle’ (something that’s a bit annoying to do and seems like hard work) at the time, you will thank yourself later, and also your overall confidence in your English skills will grow 10-fold!

Making use of your time on test-day

Finally, to achieve a high score in the IELTS reading test, use the full hour to check over your answers once more, even if you have already, or feel confident and that it was ‘easy’.

You may have missed an answer, or made a careless error or an accidental mistake when transferring your answers from the test to the IELTS reading test answer sheet; you might have misread the instructions so you have put 3 words instead of 2, etc.

ielts reading test
Remember: “Practice makes perfect”, so read regularly and stay up-to-date with news items. 

Surprisingly, on test-day it is always quite amazing to observe the number of IELTS test takers who finish early and decide it’s a good idea to have a little sleep or start drawing cartoons when they have finished and are waiting for the hour to be up!

I wonder if they all achieved their target IELTS reading test scores?!

Learn about the format of the IELTS reading test on this informative IELTS Reading Tips article!

Watch the E2 IELTS video below to practice in a real life IELTS Reading mock test!

Do you have any tips for tackling the IELTS reading section? Be sure to let us know what your top strategies are in the comments! 

Follow our social media for more IELTS resources and updates!

 

 

Written by Danielle K.